Before operations could resume, a number of environmental studies must be completed and permits obtained. Tetra Tech is the environmental engineering and consulting firm leading this effort. While the baseline environmental data is being collected, mine development and engineering will begin in the form of ore grade, copper grade and resource validation drilling and site studies. First permit applications were submitted in the fall of 2011.
General environmental considerations:
- Underground mine
- Small footprint/little disturbance
- Non-acid-generating waste rock and tailings
- No heap leaching or acid use to extract copper
- Water reclamation and conservation
- Tie-in with electrical grid as primary source of power
- Off-site smelting of copper concentrate
Environmental activities currently under way include:
- Natural resource surveys including threatened and endangered species
- Cultural surveys
- Weather monitoring
- Groundwater and spring sampling
- Storm water sampling
- Traffic studies
As part of the environmental process, a transparent and inclusive public outreach program will be implemented, including public meetings and hearings.
To contribute to sustainable project elements, where possible, new environmental sampling equipment is solar powered.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) was performed in 1977 for the conveyances across Forest Service managed lands and resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The conveyances were then operated under a special use permit.